Friday, December 9, 2016

Tuning Guide: Ukuleles

Ukuleles are a great choice for getting into playing music. Relatively easy to learn and simple to play ukes are a popular instrument of choice for the budding junior musician just starting out on their musical adventures through to a seasoned player looking to enhance their creative endeavours. Did I mention that they look cute too?

Ukuleles come in four basic sizes: Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone.

The three smaller size ukes - Soprano, Concert and Tenor - are all tuned to the same four notes: G4-C4-E4-A4. These four notes relate to each string from low to high, or from the string closest to you when held in its playing position, through to the string closest to the floor. Referred to as High-G tuning the G note is tuned higher in pitch to the C note on the next string down. This method has become the standard for ukulele tuning. Most new uke students will have learnt the little tuning song, 'My Dog Has Fleas' to aid in the tuning process to get the strings tuned to their correct pitch.

Some Tenor uke players will tune to a Low-G tuning. Here the low G string is tuned an octave lower in pitch compared to high G. The tuning range is: G3-C4-E4-A4.

Baritone ukes are tuned differently to accommodate their longer scale length. Standard tuning for a baritone uke from low to high is D3-G3-B3-E3. These are the same notes as the four highest strings on an acoustic guitar.

The easiest and most accurate way of tuning your ukulele is by using a clip on tuner. Clip on tuners work on sensing the vibration of each note and displaying the pitch or note name of each string. It's always best practice to tune up to a note rather than tune down.  This helps with tuning stability and accuracy. Clip on tuners can used to tune any stringed instrument too. So if you've got a uke, or a guitar, or even a violin player in the house, a good quality clip on tuner will service the tuning needs of all of those instruments.

If you're having trouble tuning your uke, or keeping it in tune, you might need some new strings. New strings are a quick fix in addressing any tuning related issues your uke may be experiencing as well as improve the overall sound and tone of your instrument.

Keeping your uke in tune will improve your playing and overall sound and keep everyone happy.

Happy strumming!

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